Publication Date

Spring 2019


College of Arts and Sciences; School of Education


TESL--Teacher Certification


refugees, ESL, storytelling, trauma, pedagogical strategies


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Community-Based Learning | Community Psychology | Educational Methods | First and Second Language Acquisition | Language and Literacy Education | Migration Studies


Many refugees are trying to learn English while assimilating to a new culture. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified several needs and goals of refugees including competence in the language of the receiving culture and participation in a new, welcoming community. Storytelling, expressing or receiving a narrative through oral or written communication, can be implemented for teaching English to refugees with these goals and can link academic learning with real life experiences. In addition to using storytelling as a meaningful way to interact with language, storytelling also fosters a community within the classroom. The teacher is responsible for facilitating a supportive community in the classroom through authenticity and mutual sharing of life experiences. Storytelling creates a context where both the teacher and the students can learn from each other’s life, language, and culture. As students share their stories and listen to others, they are learning from their peers and building relationships with them. This research investigates several case studies and conversations with three missionaries who shared about their experiences of serving refugees in Austria, Greece, and Jordan. Considering the unique academic, cultural, and psychological needs of refugees, this research will demonstrate how storytelling creates a positive community from which psychological healing and immense academic benefits can come about. Lastly, this research provides easily implementable pedagogical strategies for using storytelling and creating a positive community in an English classroom for refugees.